After being postponed for the first time in 124 years, the Boston Marathon is entering another first by hosting the event virtually this year.
The race was cancelled by the city’s mayor, Martin Walsh, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the marathon will be completed through a variety of virtual programming set to take place during the second week of September 2020.
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“There’s no way to hold the usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close contact,” Walsh explained in a statement. “While our goal and our hope is to make progress in containing the virus and recovering our economy, this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on September 14 or any time this year.”
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) May 28, 2020
“Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters,” CEO of the Boston Athletic Association, Tom Grilk, said in a statement. “While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for a historic 124th Boston Marathon.”
Those who were initially registered to participate in the marathon on the original date of April 20, 2020, will be given the opportunity to receive a 100% refund for their entry fee and will also be able to take part in the digital alternative, which they can run at any point between September 7 and 14, 2020.
The @BAA has announced that the 124th Boston Marathon will be held as a virtual event, following Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s cancellation of the marathon as a mass participation road running event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/tlIdvsU9sq
— Boston Marathon (@bostonmarathon) May 28, 2020
The BAA is also offering a number of digital programs and activities for the duration of the “Marathon Week” to ensure that the atmosphere and energy present at the real event can still be felt by those participating not just in the United States but all across the globe.
Such virtual activities include interviews with previous Boston Marathon champions and panel discussions. Users can also download a toolkit that features classic race elements, including a finish line that participants can print off so that they can still relish in that epic feeling of accomplishment that comes with crossing it.
Those participating in the virtual 2020 Boston Marathon must complete the 42.2 km (26.2 miles) race within six hours and provide proof of their time to the BAA.
“All athletes who complete the virtual race will receive an official Boston Marathon program, participant t-shirt, medal, and runner’s bib,” the post explains.
A total of 720,936 entered the Boston Marathon in 2019, according to the BAA website, of which 607,389 people finished.
The 2020 Boston Marathon was initially meant to take place on April 20 but was postponed to September 14 by Mayor Walsh as a result of the coronavirus pandemic before being cancelled altogether.